The secret league of horrible parents

We just won a moral victory of sorts. It took two months, and there were times I doubted the Fates would allow it, but now that it’s done, I feel free to speak of it.

I mentioned that our seven-year-old son was on a basketball team. If you saw that post, you may think our victory is a decision to keep score at the games, but it’s not. It may be even more valuable than that.

Over our three years in sports, there has not been a team that didn’t require a rotating list of hapless parents to bring healthy snacks for the kids to eat at the end of every game. The Team Snack was the Sacred Cow of youth athletics. God knows, kids playing ball for an hour would wither to dust if not fortified with granola and sugar-free fluids within seconds of the final whistle.

When I was a boy, we played all afternoon without a thought to our bellies, but then we were not enlightened enough to know we were doomed to die young for our bad habits. We drank whole milk too, to give you an idea of how recklessly ignorant we were. Our parents were the worst, making us have fun all the way until dinner time. For shame.

My wife and I dislike game-day snacks because we struggle to get to the games on time without having to remember the groceries, and it’s not like we can just grab a bag of Doritos or Oreos on the way out the door. These evil snacks we have, but only because our tragic upbringings neglected to teach us any better. Blame the 1970s.

old school

After the game, we had to take up the planking from the pasture and milk the cows before we could even think about eating. (Image: Russell Lee/US Farm Security Administration)

They told us it couldn’t be done. They said the kids on a snackless team would grow envious of the other team’s snacks, though I don’t know a single kid who covets a V8 juice box and a bar of pine needles. Still, no one would want to be on the team whose bad parents didn’t do exactly what the good parents do.

So after the first practice, we waited for that email – the one organizing the snack rotation. We’d highlight a game on the schedule, dread it’s coming, and hope we were both available to attend, so all our children and all our snacks could be at the same place at the same time.

The email never came. The coach was new, and I don’t think she even thought about snacks, which makes me love her a little bit. For the entire season, we went to games where other teams had snacks. Our team never bemoaned our lack of snacks. I saw no indication they even noticed. From our team’s other parents, I never heard a peep about snacks. Our snackless rebellion was our little secret.

I now suspect that many parents dislike the post-game snack, but no one publicly decries it, because that might make them the worst parent ever, and who would ever dare flirt with that consequence?

Conversations with my wife: Chicken, waffles, and the dry heaves

When my wife found some of those new Chicken & Waffles flavored potato chips in the grocery store, she was very excited. No, chicken and waffles is not her favorite dish. She’s never had chicken and waffles in her life. The first time she saw it on a menu, she thought it was a misprint. She’s never come close to trying it at a restaurant.

It’s all about the potato chip. For a long time, her entire adult life, at least, she has fantasized about new and exotic potato chip flavors. She tells me that they should make a this-and-that-flavored chip. I nod and agree. Sometimes they actually do come out with her flavor, or one resembling it. Then she gets upset and asks me why I didn’t submit her idea first, when we still could have been made rich by it. I shrug and apologize.

Whether or not they stole her idea for their newest flavor, she wants to taste it. She wants to have experienced every potato chip flavor known to mankind. Chicken & Waffles was never her idea, which spared me a scolding, and that is the best thing I can say about it.

I came in from the garage with the last load of groceries to find her slumped over the kitchen sink.

ME: “What’s wrong?”

WIFE: (Gagging noise.) “Oh my God, they’re wretched.” (Gagging noise.)

ME: “What is?”

WIFE: (Hacking into the sink, points at the newly opened bag of chips on the counter beside her.) “Get me some juice!”

ME: “I told you it was a horrible idea.”

WIFE: (Between hacks.) “Don’t talk! Get juice!”

ME: “What kind of juice?”


ME: “Here.” (Handing her a glass of juice.)

WIFE: (Downs juice in three gulps. Turns to me with watering eyes.) “That is the worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. I’ve never had anything so wretchedly horrible. There’s never been a food so awful. It literally made me puke.”  (She picks up the bag and shoves it into my chest.) “You have to try one.”

What could go wrong?

Is the world this desperate? Somebody should be working on Tar & Feathers flavored chips right about now.